In the winter of 1990 John Hughes (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off 1986) wrote a holiday screenplay that would be directed by Chris Columbus (The Goonies 1985) entitled “Home Alone”. The filmed stared Macaulay Culkin (Uncle Buck 1989), and his performance would end up launching him into a world-wide child star.
The holidays have arrived and the extended family is in town for a Christmas trip to Paris. When the power goes out and they all wake up late the group is lucky enough to even make the flight, let alone assure all members of the family have made it to their seats. Unfortunately eight-year old Kevin McCallister (Culkin) has been left behind.
With his parents in another country, young Kevin proves to be quite a resourceful boy who can manage on his own. The only problem is the family home is being targeted by a group of clumsy burglars (Pesci & Stern) who are well aware the family is out of town. Kevin will have to use all the tricks up his sleeve to fend off the criminals as his mother Kate (O’Hara) tries to make the long journey back to her youngest son before Christmas.
“Home Alone” made a superstar out of Macaulay Culkin and it was well earned, his performance is what makes this a memorable film. John Hughes once again collaborated on a massively successful comedy, and continued to show his skill of telling family oriented stories. While the story may be aimed for a more younger target-audience there are moments that can be related to by all ages, and overall this film can be found entertaining by virtually anyone.
The story-line was original, fresh for the time, and very well written delivering a range of comedic situations all ages can connect to. The cast was perfectly molded for a story like this and it played out nice onscreen with strong chemistry all around. The characters manage to draw you in and keep you intrigued as to how it will all turn out. The cast is also very likable, even the characters of Marv and Harry come off as harmless and charming despite being the so-called antagonists of the plot.
The dialogue is clever and Culkin delivers it with perfection for such a young actor. Regardless of being a sarcastic little kid, his energetic and charming performance make him a lovable character you can root for. Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern both came in with great performances and were excellent together. Both easily managed to pull from their inner comedic skills to provide a range of laughs with their delivery. With humorous dialogue and their physical acting, they create many memorable moments and clearly convey a sense that they enjoyed their roles.
The most important thing for a film of this genre is the delivery of a warm holiday feel and “Home Alone” hits a home-run in this category. The settings, locations and soundtrack all mix to provide a holiday vibe to complement an entertaining story that sticks to the point and doesn’t stray with many subplots.
With a great script and well directed cinematography the film delivers; drama, laughter and even some action surprisingly enough. The entire third-act is a riot as young Kevin turns the family home into a obstacle course of terror for the bumbling burglars, and he manages to do it with the tools he has at his disposal and the creative mind of a kid. The best thing about this one is it moves quickly and has only a few slow spots and it’s a fresh watch each year during the holiday season. No matter how many times you see it you laugh at all the same parts as if you’re seeing it for the first time.
At the time it looked like no child star could reach the heights forecast in the future of Macaulay Culkin’s bright young career. Unfortunately life works oddly at times and things turned out much differently. Culkin however, will always hold a place in our hearts as the ingenious Kevin McCallister in the first two (quality) entries in the “Home Alone” series and his charisma is a major reason this movie has turned into a holiday classic.
– Starring –
Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara, Roberts Blossom, Devin Ratray, John Candy, Kristin Minter
– Directed By –
Time: 103 min
MPAA Rating: PG (For comic action and mild language)